Some people think there is nothing worse than school fundraising, but they’re wrong. It’s when you have a school fundraiser and it flops. When no one buys a ticket. No one clicks on your link. When you’re left with 600 pieces of unsold crap and a ‘please explain’ from the Treasurer.

Save yourself the headache and follow these rules so you don’t stuff up your next fundraiser.

Go wide

Think beyond school mums and dads, and plan a fundraiser that you can flog to the neighbours and local community. A wider appeal means a bigger market. The bigger the market the more money you will make. Besides, everyone is sick of having to buy back cakes and honey joys they spent the weekend baking. Sell them to a stranger instead.

The time is right

Planning your parent quiz night bang smack in the middle of a long weekend? A Family Camp Out on the day of the AFL Grand Final? Good luck with that. Get the timing right, and don’t clash with other major events (yes, for some reason watching men in short shorts is a major event). On the flipside why not run your chocolate fundraiser just before Easter or sell socks before Fathers’ Day. It’s all in the timing. Get it right and you’re on to a winner, muck it up and you have boxes of unsold stuff sitting in the storage shed for the next three years.

MacGyver it

If your school has a history of crapshit involvement, don’t tempt the fates by holding a fundraiser that requires lots of volunteers, multiple meetings, equipment hire and a magic rabbit. Find one that can be done with little more than fifteen minutes of your time, a few mouse clicks and a half-finished bottle of Pinot. Work with what you’ve got, not what you wish you had.

Kids are your secret weapon

Have you noticed how people are much better at saying ‘no’ to other adults than they are to their own kids? The mums who avoid direct eye contact, or cross to the other side of the playground when they see you coming. Screw ‘em. Get the kids onside. Go to assembly and rally them up, tell them how this fundraiser will be the most fun ever. Bribe them with prizes for the families who buys/sell the most. Get the kids onside and make them go home to convince their parents – let them do the dirty work for you.

School is not Instagram

The quickest way to a fundraiser headache is trying to sell lots of expensive things with tiny little profit margins. Think twice before attempting a fundraiser just because it looks pretty and you saw it on Instagram. Do your math – how much profit is actually involved in each item? Will you actually have to work hard to sell them? Grab five random people at school and ask them if they’d buy this thing. If you have to convince people, do like Elsa and let it go. You are not the school influencer. Trust me, you won’t get any more likes.

Last minute Lucy

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that parents will leave ordering and purchasing tickets to the absolute last minute. And while they might not be doing it deliberately just to screw with your head, it is almost pathological. Keep your spending to last minute where possible, and only when you have reached minimum numbers. If your school is particularly heinous, skip any fundraiser that requires upfront payment or who has obscenely high ‘minimum’ numbers. There’s no point paying for everyone else’s tardiness with your own mental health.

Know Thyself

Before you commit to some exciting new fundraiser, go find the crusty ex-President who’s been hiding the past few years, hoping everyone forgets who she is. Ask what worked and what failed in the past. Is this school the type who loves their kid’s artwork on mugs and tea-towels or are they more likely to go in for a raffle for a carton of wine. Do the parents love a good social night or are they more likely to toss cash at you so they can stay home, watch Netflix and choose something from a catalogue. This doesn’t mean you can’t try new things, but it’s good to know what’s happened in the past, especially the flops that no one likes talking about.

What school fundraising projects have worked in your school and which ones have dismally flopped? Tell us in the comments below.

  • Annual school fairs have worked well in the past. Book catalogues and chocolates. Tuck shop


  • I have violently objected to a few fundraisers that encouraged kids – primary age – to go on social media and ask for money. So dangerous!


  • The best fundraiser used to be the school fete – these days with all the no-no’s on home cooking etc. I guess it wouldn’t go over as well. But so many children used to really love buying home-cooked cakes and toffees – and once the parents were at the school then the raffle would be sold out and the headmaster would make sure every child won one of the games on the day. One has to include all the parents for a fund raiser to be efficient


  • Gosh, that would be awful to have a fund-raiser that no one participated in. Our local school has regular fund-raisers. The popular ones seem to be sweet related. Lollies, slices, Krispy Kreme……always popular


  • some good advice


  • The Chocolates always sell the best or lollies!


  • I remember getting boxes or chocolates to sell for calisthenics when I was a kid and mum and dad would have to end up forming out the money because they ate all the chocolates lol


  • Selling the chocolate boxes are always a hit! With prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place for most boxes sold.


  • Our school has stopped doing fetes and fundraisers. They now just sell tickets to win prizes. These are sent home by the kids to sell. Otherwise they send out notices in the local paper asking for donations.


  • Thanks for sharing this.


  • I was on the School Council and Fundraising Committee so there was always something to be done. We always hosted Mother’s Day and Father’s Day stalls. A trivia night every couple of years raised a lot of money. Sausage sizzles were always good and easy money. As was the Cadbury drive.


  • I found chocolate bar fundraisers are the easiest Ones.


  • I hate school fundraisers. Everything is way overpriced and I hate asking people to buy stuff. My girl’s school recently had a chocolate fundraiser, where they had to toss a 50c coin. In the newsletter it said everyone gets a chocolate. On the day not everybody got a chocolate as the coin had to land on a mat. It was disappointing to the kids (especially our little ones) and also to us parents who could have just purchased a bag of chocolate to avoid their disappointment.


  • Let’s home the small portion of people who have sway in this area read the article.


  • Strangely entertaining but great advice! Don’t know if I’m up for school fundraisers

    • No me neither, but I’m glad when there are others who feel passionate about it


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